From a Special Correspondent
A crowd of 11,000 demonstrators filled a market square in Vienna on Saturday to protest against the proposed liberalisation of Austria's strict abortion laws.
, Vienna's Archbishop, Car dinal Franz Koenig, and numerous other Church figures and opposition politicians took part.
Eight days ago a new criminal code passed through Parliament's Justice Committee and paved the way for a major relaxation in the abortion law in predominantly Catholic Austria. Officials said the code was almost certain to be ratified by Parliament by the end of the year.
Under it. women will be allowed to have their pregnancies terminated within the first three months provided the abortion is sanctioned by a doctor.
toughest in Europe, allows an
The present law, one of the abortion only if the woman's life
In Hungary, the results of the Communist government's tolerance of induced abortions has led it to revise its policy drastically. It is now combining economic incentives for larger families with a more restrictive policy towards induzed abortion.
This is because, with a population of 10.5 million, Hungary has an average birth rate of 14 per 1,000, with deaths at 10 to 12 per 1.000.
It is considered insufficient to guarantee a health growth of the total population. When abortion was strictly prohibited, the birth rate had been 23 per 1,000. Last year, the number of legally induced abortions was 178,400 — roughly a sixth higher than the 153,265 live births. The number of premature births, largely due, in the view of medical authorities, to induced abortion, also rose alarmingly.
The rate of 10 to 11 per cent of all live births puts Hungary ahead of all European countries. Doctors are worried at the high percentage of brain damage in among these premature babies.
tinder the new decree. a mother who stays at home looking after two small children will receive in Government grants more than the average monthly
wages of a working woman.
The big change will be that
unwanted pregnancies should
he presented but not interrupted, the Government resolution said.
Applications for an abortion must be submitted to a threemember commission who will grant or refuse them. These commissions, with a doctor as president, will function as an administrative body. Appeals with a five-member commission are possible.
Strict penalties already exist in Hungary for illicit abortions.
In Grenoble, France, six young demonstrators were hurt last week in violent scuffles with police outside a cinema which tried to show a film banned by the government because it con tains a scene portraying an abortion. The incident occurred when 150 protesters belonging to a pro-abortion group blocked the entrance to the cinema in an effort to thwart police who came to seize the film.
Abortion is a crime in France though a draft law is under consideration whereby abortions would be allowed if the mother had been raped or if her physical or mental health was in danger.